Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Grand Prix of Portland – Portland International Raceway
Round 16 of 17 in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series
DATE: August 30 – September 1, 2019
PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 1:50-2:35 p.m. and 5:40-7:10 p.m., and Saturday from 2:00-2:45 p.m. All times Eastern. Also live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass beginning at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday. Also live on the AAPIRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
RACE BROADCAST: Live Sunday, September 1 beginning at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the AAPIRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209.
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.964-mile, 12-turn permanent road course
RACE LENGTH: 105 laps / 200.94 miles
2018 WINNER: Takuma Sato
2018 POLESITTER: Will Power (57.3467 / 123.292 mph)
RAHAL’S BEST PORTLAND START/FINISH: 8th in 2007 / 9th in 2007 – both with NHLR; will be his 3rd Indy car race here & 5th overall
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: 3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017
SATO’S BEST PORTLAND START/FINISH: 20th / 1st – both with RLL in 2018
SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: 9 Poles – Iowa (oval) 2011, Edmonton (street) 2011, Houston Race 1 (street) 2013, St. Pete (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 2017, Pocono (oval) 2017, Barber (road) 2019, Texas (oval) 2019 / 5 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019, St. Louis 2019
RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT PORTLAND: 1st – Bryan Herta (1998) & Max Papis (2001) / 1st – Papis (2001) & Takuma Sato (2018); 14th race here
NEWS & NOTES:
TWO WINS AND THREE PODIUMS FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT PORTLAND
Indy car racing returned to Portland International Raceway (PIR) for the first time since the 24th consecutive race was held in 2007. It will mark the 14th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete in an Indy car race here. The team competed in CART and Champ Car-sanctioned races here from 1992-2003 with a best starting position of pole by Bryan Herta in 1998 and Max Papis in 2001 and best finish of first place last year by Takuma Sato and in 2001 by Max Papis. RLL has earned a total of four podium finishes (3rd – B. Rahal 1995, Herta 1998) and has led a total of 114 laps here (1998: Herta, 20; 2001 Papis, 69; Sato, 25). In addition, the team competed in the Toyota Atlantic races here in 2003 (Danica Patrick, Jon Fogerty) and 2004 (Patrick and Chris Festa).
Prior to 2019, the team prepared a total of 24 Indy car entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Graham Rahal (2018) and Takuma Sato (2018). The No. 15 One Cure Honda entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 26 in 2019.
GRAHAM HOPES TO RETURN TO SUCCESS AT PORTLAND AFTER BEING TAKEN OUT ON LAP 1 IN 2018
It will be the fifth overall race for Graham at PIR and third in the main event. Last year, he started 10th and had gotten through Turns 1 and 2, which was expected to be action-packed at the start, and after getting through Turn 2 Zach Veach squeezed James Hinchcliffe and the two made contact which set off a multi-car crash that collected Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Rahal, points-leader Scott Dixon and his then teammate Ed Jones. Rahal’s car was too damaged to continue so it was towed back to the paddock and after more than one hour he returned to the track to complete a handful of laps to collect two championship points, which was the maximum possible. This move helped him at season’s end. Prior to that, he competed in the 2007 Champ Car World Series race where he started eighth and finished ninth in his rookie season for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. He started from pole in the Atlantics race here in 2006 but was hit by Simon Pagenaud on Lap 1 and finished 27th. In 2005, he earned his first professional win at PIR in the Star Mazda race after starting fourth and winning by a margin of 0.0317 seconds.
“I love going to Portland, it’s a great race. Last year is not what we hoped for. We were pretty competitive last year and I expect us to be pretty competitive again this year. We’re poised for a good race there. I have had good success winning in Star Mazda, being on pole in Formula Atlantic and being quick there last year so hopefully all the pieces of the puzzle come together. There is no margin for error to go fast there. Like all tracks, you’ve got to push it to the limit to get the most out of a lap but there is a very fine line there between what is good and what is not at Portland. And there is not a lot of runoffs so the moment you drop a wheel, you’re really in the grass whereas a lot of other places have a little bit of margin. Some other teams tested last week which is probably going to give them a leg up but hopefully we can catch up quick.”
TAKUMA RETURNS TO PORTLAND AS THE DEFENDING WINNER AND MOST RECENT SERIES WINNER
After winning the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 last Saturday night, Takuma Sato returns to the Portland Grand Prix as the defending champion of the race and the most recent race winner in the series. Last year, he won his third IndyCar Series race overall and first with RLL after starting 20th in his first race at PIR. He led a total of 23 laps including the final 20 on what was largely a two-stop strategy plus an early pit to top off on fuel during an opening lap caution that took out four cars including his teammate Rahal. On the start, he avoided a multi-car crash and once the pits opened during the caution, he pit to top off his fuel and returned to the track in 16th place. Topping off on fuel enabled him to cycle as high as second when he made his second stop for tires and fuel on Lap 39. He returned to the track in 17th place and maintained a good pace to those on two and three-stop strategies. He moved up to 10th on Lap 45 when drivers ahead took advantage of the caution for Will Power and pit. He passed Chaves for 9th on Lap 47 and held the position until three-stoppers began to pit. He was in seventh place when a caution came out for Veach. As the front runners pit during the caution, he stayed on track and cycled to second place. When the race went green on Lap 60/105, he held second place behind Ryan Hunter-Reay for a total of 14 laps before Hunter-Reay have to make another stop. He took over the lead on Lap 71 and held it until he made his final stop on Lap 76. He returned to the track in second place to Max Chilton, who still had to pit. A caution came out for Ferrucci. The race went green on Lap 81 and Chilton pit for fuel on Lap 85. Sato had a 0.74-second lead over Hunter-Reay which he build to one second by Lap 100 of 105. He held off Hunter-Reay and took the checkered flag 0.6084 ahead of him to win. He is hoping to carry over momentum to the final two races of the season.
“It’s great to go back to Portland as the defending winner and also after having won in St. Louis. Portland is a beautiful city with the nearby mountains, the Columbia river and lots of seafood. There is also a great Japanese community there and a lot of Japanese restaurants so I love it even more. The fans waited a long time for the return of Indy car racing and I’m really honored to be the first winner for the new generation of races there. That was also the first win for me with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing so there are a lot of great memories and happy moments. I’m really happy to be there as the defending champion and I believe we can do a good job again.”
SATO ON IMPROVED ROAD COURSE COMPETITIVENESS IN 2019
Takuma’s first win of the 2019 season was from pole on the Barber Motorsports Park road course. The final two races of the season – at PIR and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – are also on road courses and Takuma is hoping to have similar weekends to Barber beginning with the 105-lap race at PIR.
“It is a tough track for sure and it was an extremely tight field last year. We couldn’t qualify well last year but the time difference between the front row to the bottom was only a couple of tenths (of a second) so it is extremely important to squeeze the last percent of performance possible in qualifying. Further up on the grid is better of course but, if you look at last year, we ran a very unique strategy in terms of the fuel and succeeded. I don’t know if that can happen again this year but more importantly our generic road course setup this year is more competitive than it was last year so I’m looking forward to having a very competitive weekend again.”
POINTS BATTLE AFTER 15 OF 17 RACES
Heading into Round 16 of 17, Sato has a total of 382 points and is ranked sixth in series standings. Rahal is eighth with 346. Will Power is ranked fifth with 416. The season-finale at Laguna Seca is a double-points race.